This politician transformed Atlanta’s black community’s engagement in business from 1% to 35%

Stephen Nartey June 06, 2023
During Maynard's tenure as mayor, he focused on fostering economic growth and increasing opportunities for marginalized communities. Photo credit: Texas State Historical Association

Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. was a man who excelled both in politics and business. As a politician, he opened doors for people of African descent to participate fully in business when he became Atlanta’s first black mayor. The black community’s representation in business, which was one percent at the time he was elected into office, shot up to 35 percent by the end of his tenure.

As an entrepreneur, Maynard ran one of the top five black investment companies in the nineties. His expansion project of the Hartsfield Airport was the game changer for many black businesses. Many believe the foundation for his meteoric rise in his area of interest is a result of some influence from his grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs.

He was an unofficial mayor of Auburn Avenue, a significant place in African American history, and symbolizes the center of black empowerment, according to the National Park Service.

Maynard was born on March 23, 1938, in Dallas, Texas, and was a remarkable individual who displayed exceptional intelligence and ambition from an early age. One of the most notable aspects of his early life was his remarkable academic prowess. He possessed a brilliant mind, enabling him to graduate from high school at the astonishingly young age of 14.

This exceptional accomplishment foreshadowed the immense success he would later achieve in his professional and political careers.

After completing high school, Jackson went on to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He further honed his intellectual capabilities and became deeply engaged in civil rights activism during this time. The 1960s, a decade marked by significant social and political upheaval, provided the backdrop against which Maynard’s passion for justice and equality blossomed.

Following his undergraduate studies, he pursued a legal education at the North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he earned his law degree. Armed with legal knowledge and a fierce determination to combat racial injustice, he set out to make a difference in the world.

However, his trajectory took a slight detour from the field of law when he decided to delve into the world of finance. He emerged as a prominent figure in the business world during the 1970s, running one of the top five investment firms in the nation. His acumen and success in the financial sector brought him considerable wealth and recognition, solidifying his reputation as a formidable force in the business community.

While his accomplishments in the world of finance were impressive, Maynard was ultimately inspired to enter into politics by the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The assassination of this iconic civil rights leader in 1968 deeply affected Maynard, compelling him to take a more active role in shaping the future of his community and the nation.

He later made history when he became the first African American mayor of Atlanta, Georgia in 1973. This achievement was significant, not only for Atlanta, but also for the entire nation; as it signaled a new era of representation and inclusivity in American politics. Maynard’s election marked a pivotal moment in the struggle for civil rights and inspired a generation of aspiring leaders.

During his tenure as mayor, he focused on fostering economic growth and increasing opportunities for marginalized communities, and implemented policies that promoted minority participation in government contracts, leading to greater diversity and economic empowerment. His commitment to equity and fairness earned him widespread admiration, and solidified his position as a prominent figure in American politics.

Maynard Jackson’s contributions extended beyond his time in office. He played a key role in securing Atlanta’s position as an international hub, spearheading efforts to modernize Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, which would later become the busiest airport in the world.

He also played a significant role in attracting the 1996 Olympic Games to Atlanta, leaving a lasting legacy of progress and development. Maynard’s impact on American society was immeasurable. He challenged the status quo, shattered barriers, and paved the way for future generations of leaders.

His dedication to civil rights, combined with his remarkable business acumen, made him a force to reckon with, earning him a place in the annals of American history. Maynard Jackson passed away on June 23 2003, his indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to equality will continue to inspire and guide those who follow in his footsteps.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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